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The best kept secret in Lake Oswego

The Staffords Melange Restaurant welcomes public as well as residents


by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Michael Schultz gets busy making lunch in the kitchen of The Stafford dining room. Schultz says it is just like cooking in his home.It is easy to see why Michael Schultz loves being the executive chef for The Stafford. Even when things aren’t going so well, it is great.

On one occasion a resident motioned Schultz over to his table and told him, “The soup was terrible today. But we love you anyway. Don’t leave!”

Aside from this one bad soup day, Schultz turns out food that is absolutely great, and he wants the Lake Oswego public to know that they are welcome to come dine at the Melange Restaurant.

“It’s the best kept secret in Lake Oswego,” Schultz said. “People are always surprised when they find out. They ask me, ‘You’re open to the public?’ ”

You bet it is. Schultz hopes it won’t be a secret any longer, because the food served by The Stafford is delicious, healthy, of great variety, and an excellent value for the price. He is no longer content to hide his restaurant’s light under a bushel basket.

“I love our customers,” Schultz said. “It’s like a family here. It’s like working in my house.”

Everyone knows you can’t beat home cooking, and Schultz and his staff of talented cooks and bakers serve up a menu that is strong on seafood, Italian food and just Northwest cuisine in general — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Schultz brought a wide and accomplished resume to The Stafford three years ago. Being a chef is Schultz’s family tradition, and he was practically born with a tiny chef’s hat on his head. At age 21 he was running his own restaurant. When he first left California and arrived in Portland he was intending only to attend cooking school because he was not too crazy about all of the rain.

“Then summer came and I fell in love with the place,” he said.

Schultz proceeded to marry, raise a family and become a master chef. His record includes 10 years at The Marriott, where he was “hired to bring cooking out of the middle ages to higher education” with his expert chef work at college events. He was also food director at the Portland Christian Center, where one of his duties was running a school for 300 kids. For nine years he was executive chef at OHSU.

Schultz accepted the job at The Stafford because “I really like to get in and cook and run a restaurant.”

He was just what The Stafford needed. The retirement center had gone through a merry-go-round of seven chefs. Stability was not a strong point.

“It hasn’t been that way since I’ve been here,” Schultz said. “This is the right fit for me. It works.”

There is so much more beyond the everyday menu for three meals a day offered by The Stafford. It also has special events, like its recent Arabian Nights theme for Valentine’s Day. “There were belly dancers and everything,” Schultz said. St. Patrick’s day was an extravaganza, with a menu that could have turned anybody into an Irishman. Easter brunch was a hugely popular event.

Starting in June there will be Friday night celebrations with live music and a theme meal.

Echoing the Beach Boys, Schultz said, “It’s a fun, fun, fun thing we do every summer. We have fresh fish that is a phenomenal value for what you get.”

Schultz’s right hand man in all of his endeavors is catering manager John Olson.

“We want people in Lake Oswego to know we are open for sure,” Olson said. “We want to help the community and help us at the same time. We definitely want to stay local and community based.”

Schultz has big plans, such as opening a coffee shop with the best espresso in town and starting a new wine label.

His motto is, “Everything we make is fresh. Always from scratch.”

The Stafford dining service is also open for special events such as sports fundraisers and weddings.

For more information go to the web site at thestafford.net or call 503-636-4589.

The best places for parking are the lot up front or the visitors parking lot east of the main lot.



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